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Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unwavering support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

McIntosh Excited to Return to California

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11502942.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Returning back to his or her home state to compete is always an exciting moment for any athlete. For the first time since high school, redshirt senior Morgan McIntosh is heading back to California for a competition as the No.1-ranked Nittany Lions take on CSU Bakersfield and Stanford this weekend.

McIntosh hails from Santa Ana and is looking forward to this trip to the West Coast. This trip has been in the works for years as when recruiting McIntosh to come to Penn State, head coach Cael Sanderson told the senior that they would hope to visit California and wrestle at some point in his career.

"It's awesome and I'm really grateful that the coaches were able to put it together," said McIntosh. "I'm happy that he was finally able to put it together and work together with the Bakersfield and Stanford coaches to put this together."

These two matches also give McIntosh's family and friends a rare chance to watch him wrestle, some of whom haven't seen him wrestle in years. While the trip is a nice homecoming for the Santa Ana native, it is also a chance to show everyone back home what he's learned during his years as a Nittany Lion.

"I've had a great experience here and I would never take anything back. I love it here, but I also love California too so it's nice to be able to take what I've learned here and bring it to California," said McIntosh.

This also is a great opportunity for other members of the team to go out west, as many of the wrestlers have never been to California. McIntosh cited how everyone is excited to get out there and see what California is like.

"I know everyone is excited to get out to California," said McIntosh. "I know a lot of the guys have never been to California, so that will be a little bit of a different experience for them."

One concern about the trip is the long distance travel. Traveling across the country can pose challenges for wrestlers trying to keep with their routine, but McIntosh explains how this trip is no different than any other one.

"They have all been wrestling for a long time and they know what it's like to travel long distance and have to wrestle the next day, so they are prepared for it; but also everyone on the team is excited to see what California has got," said McIntosh.

Aside from seeing his friends and family, the senior is also excited to reunite with a lot of his friends that wrestle at Bakersfield. The No. 1-ranked 197-pounder has a lot of close friends that he's known his entire wrestling career and can't wait to catch up with them.

"The Hammond's are a close family friend that I've known for a long time, so that will be cool to see them and wrestle against my friends team," said McIntosh. "They are really pumped for this match too."

The Nittany Lions will take on CSU Bakersfield Friday night and compete against Stanford on Sunday before returning back to State College.  

VIDEO: This Week in Penn State Wrestling - Morgan McIntosh (11/18/15)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a pair of victories during the opening weekend of the season, the No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team travels to California for duals against CSU-Bakersfield and No. 18 Stanford.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with senior and No. 1-ranked Morgan McIntosh (197 Pounds) leading up to the trip. McIntosh is a California native hailing from Santa Ana and is thrilled to be heading back to his home state for competition.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Freshmen Lead the Way in Shutout Over Lock Haven

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11488835.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a capacity crowd filled Rec Hall for the start of the 2015-16 wrestling season, there was an anxious buzz surrounding the match as this was the first time the fans were getting a glimpse at some of the highly touted freshman wrestlers making their debuts.

Getting their very first collegiate wrestling experience, the freshmen for Penn State capitalized on their opportunity. The Nittany Lions ran out four wrestlers making their collegiate wrestling debut, which was just one of many story lines in the No. 1 Nittany Lions' 50-0 shutout against Lock Haven Friday night.

"I'm excited. When you have freshmen coming out and wrestling as aggressively and confidently as these guys did, that feels pretty good," said head coach Cael Sanderson.

Jason Nolf was the first freshman to trot out on the mat for the Blue and White and right away, showed his aggressive style that Sanderson alluded to, pinning his opponent with 18 seconds left in the first period.

"I could feel the energy and it started to sink it when I was warming up," said Nolf. "I could feel my heart beating really hard, but it wasn't nervousness. It was energy. I had fun and felt the energy of the crowd."

Sanderson was impressed with the way Nolf came out and dominated, and said a message that can be said for Nolf as well as the rest of the first year grapplers on his squad.

"You watch [Nolf] and you are glad that you still have four more years with this guy," said Sanderson. "He scores points and is fun to watch."

Shakur Rasheed's debut was cut short as after recording a takedown in the first period against Dillon Gavlock, Gavlock suffered an injury and could not wrestle the rest of the match, giving Rasheed an injury default victory.

The third Nittany Lion freshman in a row, Bo Nickal, continued to wrestle the aggressive style that was the theme of the match for Penn State. Nickal, en route to a tech fall victory, tallied eight takedowns, part of an effort that saw the No. 1-ranked squad record 36 takedowns to the lone one for the Bald Eagles.

With the match securely in hand, nearly every individual in the 6,356-sellout crowd stayed to watch the final and arguably the most anticipated match of the night. Newcomer and heavy weight Jan Johnson, who was a member of the football team until a few weeks ago, received a standing ovation when he was announced.

Johnson, a two time Pennsylvania high school state champion, was not only transitioning from football to wrestling, but also making a weight change as well, bumping up to the heavyweight role.   

"It's a lot different and the weight is a little bit different," said Johnson. "At first, I noticed it a little bit, but as the match went on, I couldn't tell as much and I felt that I could wrestle how I wanted to and that I had control of the pace."

Johnson took on Brad Emerick, who had 40 pounds on the freshman, which did not seem to faze the Mohnton, Pa. native. Johnson notched a second period takedown, sending the already raucous crowd into a frenzy and making Rec Hall the loudest it's was all night. Johnson outlasted Emerick to record a 3-2 victory to cap off the perfect 4-0 record for the Nittany Lion freshmen.

Also returning to the lineup was Nico Megaludis and Zain Retherford, who after sitting out a redshirt year, rang in their seasons with a bang. Megaludis, in his usual 125-pound weight class, set the tone early on for the Nittany Lions, recording seven takedowns and pinned Jake Field at the 6:07 mark.

"I was just thinking how nice it was to have Nico [Megaludis] back," said Sanderson. "He's so consistent and really sets the pace for the team and he has done that for three years. It's very nice to have him back to set that pace and get the brand rolling."

Retherford, who bumped up a weight class to 149-pounds this season, showed he was ready for the new challenge and continued the dominance Penn State showed all night. The sophomore took down Cody Wheeler right away and did not waste anytime getting the win, pinning Wheeler 2:15 into the first period.

Bonus points were also a huge key in the victory for Sanderson's squad, as the Nittany Lions tallied bonus points in eight of the ten matches. Notching four pins and two tech falls, the Blue and White totaled 20 bonus points on the night. It's that kind of style that Sanderson says makes watching this team fun to watch and keeps the fans wanting more.

VIDEO: Wrestling Post-Match Highlights & Interviews vs. Lock Haven

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind four pins and two technical falls, the No. 1 Nittany Lion wrestling team shut out intra-state foe Lock Haven, 50-0, before a packed house in Rec Hall on Friday night.

Senior Nico Megaludis kicked off his return to the mat with a pin at 125 pounds. Sophomore Zain Retherford (149), freshman Jason Nolf (157) and sophomore Matt McCutcheon (184) followed suit with pins of their own. In total, eight Nittany Lions earned bonus points in the opening match of the season. True freshman Jan Johnson put an exclamation point on the shutout with a gritty 3-2 victory at heavyweight in his first match with the team after making the transition from the football team to the wrestling squad two weeks ago.

See highlights, including all four pins and hear from head coach Cael Sanderson, Johnson and Nolf following the season-opening victory. The Lions travel to No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lion Wrestlers Set for Season Opener

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11476355.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just two days away from the opening match of the season against Lock Haven, the No. 1-ranked Penn State wrestling team hosted its annual media day at Rec Hall on Wednesday.

"We are excited the season is starting," said head coach Cael Sanderson. "We've got an exciting team. We have some kids that are excited to get out there and compete."

The Nittany Lions enter the 2015-16 season with nine wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes. Senior Morgan McIntosh leads the way as he is ranked No. 1 in the 197-pound weight class. Nico Megaludis (125 Pounds), Jimmy Gulibon (141 Pounds) and Zain Retherford (149 Pounds) all are ranked No. 2.  Jason Nolf (No. 6 at 157 Pounds), Jordan Conaway (No. 8 at 133 Pounds), Garett Hammond (No. 14 at 165 Pounds), Bo Nickal (No. 14 at 174 Pounds) and Matt McCutcheon (No. 14 at 184 Pounds) round out the ranked Nittany Lion wrestlers in the probably starting lineup. 

With the return of Retherford and Megaludis to the lineup, Sanderson made a few tweaks at the lighter weights classes to best serve the team. Megaludis returns from a redshirt season to his usual 125-weight class, bumping Conaway to the 133-division.  Gulibon jumped up to 141 and Retherford will wrestle at the 149-pound division.

For Retherford, the transition up a weight class will come with great confidence, as he is ready to start the season and accept the new challenges.

"I knew I was going 149 since the summer, so I kind of wrapped my mind around it for a while now, but I am excited about it," said Retherford. "The guys might be a little bigger and a little taller, but I'm excited."

For Conaway, he already has wrestled at the 133 division before and says how that experience has benefitted him when it came to making the switch to that weight class again this season.

"I definitely feel that I am stronger when compared to when I wrestled at 133 a couple of years ago," said Conaway. "I am just a little more mature for the weight class compared to a couple of years ago."

Sunday's match against No. 7 Virginia Tech poses a early season challenge for the Nittany Lions, but many of the wrestlers are looking forward to the experience as it prepares them for what's to come both in the regular and post season.

"Lock Haven is going to be a good test, but I'm excited to travel. First home match is going to be a lot of fun, but it's different to travel and wrestle after a Friday match and have to make weight again Sunday," said Retherford. "You get exposure to different things you are going to see later on in the season."

"That will be a real good test for us," said Megaludis. "I think their whole lineup is pretty stacked, so that will be a good test for all of our guys to go out there and fight."

The Nittany Lions open the season Friday with a match against Lock Haven at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. Penn State then hits the road for a Sunday match against the seventh-ranked Hokies, which is slated for a 1 p.m. start. 

VIDEO: 2015-16 Wrestling Media Day Interviews

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VIDEO: Cael Sanderson Media Day Press Conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team welcomed the media to Rec Hall on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the 2015-16 season.

The Nittany Lions are slated to begin the dual match slate against Lock Haven on Friday at 7 p.m. inside Rec Hall. Head coach Cael Sanderson talked with the media for an open interview session with members of the team. Optimism is high for the Lions as they kick off a weekend that features a trip to No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sunday.

"We are excited the season is starting," said Sanderson. "We've had some good training. We've got an exciting team. We have some kids that are excited to get out there and compete. Our matches this weekend will give us a good idea where we are at, and then we will go from there."

GoPSUsports.com caught up with a host of wrestlers, including No. 8 Jordan Conaway (125 Pounds), No. 14 Matt McCutcheon (184 Pounds), No. 14 Bo Nickal (174 Pounds) and No. 6 Jason Nolf (157 Pounds) on media day. Take a look.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

McCutcheon Set to Have a Big Impact on 2015-16 season

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By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After an outstanding finish to his 2014-15 season, redshirt sophomore Matt McCutcheon enters the 2015-16 season with a resounding confidence at the 184-pound weight class for the Nittany Lions.

McCutcheon posted a 26-14 record last season and made it to the 'Round of 12' at the NCAA Championships. 

McCutcheon started off his college career slower than he would have liked, dropping two matches to a pair of the better wrestlers in the country at 184 pounds. After that point, the then-redshirt freshman realized that maybe he wasn't quite where he thought he was at that point in his career. As the season progressed, though, the Apollo, Pa., native adjusted to the collegiate wrestling style, which McCutcheon cited was a big lesson that he learned and one that he can carry over into this season.

"I started getting more confidence and eventually, I did decent at Nationals, but nowhere near where I wanted to be," said McCutcheon. "It's definitely been a learning experience."

Looking back on his freshman season, McCutcheon's biggest takeaway was his confidence. Everything started to click for him at the end of the year, which allowed his mindset to be one that going into matches, he knew he should not only be competing with his opponents, but beating them as well. McCutcheon's confidence was a huge key to his strong finish, as he was just one win away from being named an All-American. Putting in a lot of work in the offseason and in the summer really gave the sophomore a confidence boost on the mat.

McCutcheon focused on a couple of different areas in the offseason to try and improve from last year.

"Getting different attacks was one of my focuses," said McCutcheon. "Another one was getting off the bottom. I struggled with it in the beginning of the year and going into the end of the season, I started getting off, which was something that helped me a lot."

Aside from those focus points, McCutcheon also worked on riding his opponent once he gets position on top. He cited how last season, he allowed too many opponents to get easy escape points and is looking to fix that coming into this season.

There are a plethora of resources that McCutcheon uses in practice to get his game to its peak. Having great coaches to learn from as well as being around decorated wrestlers like David Taylor has really benefitted the sophomore. Coach Casey Cunningham has helped McCutcheon significantly on the technique side and fixing the little details. McCutcheon credits head coach Cael Sanderson for getting him mentally ready each and every day. 

McCutcheon's love for the sport serves as his motivation when it comes to match day.

"A lot of people wrestle for different reasons and I do it because I love it," said McCutcheon. "It's fun coming into practice every day and working and getting better. I think that's the one thing I like the most."

Arguably one of the most driven and focused wrestlers on the team, McCutcheon accredits his focus to the fact that he had a chip on his shoulder coming in.   

"I wasn't one of the best guys coming in, so I needed to take every advantage I could to get ahead of somebody," said McCutcheon. "Being mentally prepared is huge and most of it comes from our coaches and the way they teach us to prepare for matches."

In addition, the sophomore credits Coach Sanderson for helping the entire team create and attain goals through the idea of vision books, where each wrestler writes down their goals and how they are going to get there.

Last season, McCutcheon was honored with the Kaye Vinson Award Winner for the Most Improved Wrestler. The 184-pounder is honored to be the recipient of this award and credits the coaching staff for getting him to wrestle his best at the end of the season.

"We have one of the best programs that make sure that you're ready by the end of the year and peaking at the right time," said McCutcheon. "I think that it's an attest to the coaches and I think this year, I need to start how I ended."

Looking towards this season, McCutcheon believes both himself and the team can have a big year and are looking forward to getting on the mat and working towards their big goal.

"I think the expectations for both the team and myself are the same: to be national champions," said McCutcheon. "We have a young team, but the team is talented and it's going to be an exciting year." 

McIntosh Ready for Final Season

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11420348.jpegBy Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- While many wrestlers on the Nittany Lion squad hail from Pennsylvania, 19 of 31 to be exact, McIntosh is a rare recruit from the West Coast. 

There were many factors that drove the senior to pick Penn State, mainly head coach Cael Sanderson. McIntosh initially had his sights set on Iowa State, where Sanderson was coaching at the time. When the coach made the move to Happy Valley, McIntosh turned his attention to Penn State. 

"I took a lot of recruiting trips and took five official visits to schools, but when I took my trip here and met [Sanderson] and the guys, that's what drew me here," said McIntosh.

Wrestling, you could say, runs in the McIntosh blood, as Morgan's dad wrestled in high school and a little bit in college. The All-American started wrestling at eight years old and once he started wrestling, there was no getting McIntosh off the mat. 

"I fell in love it right off the bat. It felt natural for me to wrestle," said McIntosh. "I love the one-on-one aspect of the sport and how competitive and physical it can be."

Since wrestling is an individual sport, each wrestler gets themselves ready both physically and mentally in their own way. For McIntosh, he finds his motivation in his passion for the sport. 

"For me, my motivation is that it's a fun sport and I love to do it and I love to compete," said McIntosh. "I want to compete and help win a national title for my team."

One of the coaches who works the most with McIntosh and is a person that the senior looks up to is Casey Cunningham. Cunningham, who was recently inducted into MAC Hall of Fame, is in his sixth year as an assistant coach. The biggest attribute McIntosh says that Cunningham brings is his attitude, as he is a fun guy to have in the wrestling room.

"He's such a good coach and is great at explaining technique and getting down in the nitty-gritty details and explaining things," said McIntosh. "He always brings something interesting to the wrestling room with his crazy beard and baggy sweatpants. He's a funny dude and it's fun having him in our wrestling room."

Having three years of collegiate wrestling under his belt, McIntosh has had many opportunities to wrestle on the big stage and has learned a lot from these moments. McIntosh is currently ranked No. 1 in the 197-pound weight class. The senior is a two-time All-American and finished third in his weight class at Nationals in March. 

"My freshman year, I was worn out towards the end of the year and looking at the tournaments, I think I looked ahead too much instead of taking it one match at a time," said McIntosh. "When you do that, you wear yourself out even before you start."

The biggest thing McIntosh learned is how to take care of his body off the mat and make sure he is healthy and sharp once competition comes. 

"Over the years I've also learned a lot about my body. You learn when to take a break, let things heal or let your mind recover from putting in the work. I think just learning about your body and how you need to train before a competition is a big thing I've learned over the last three years," McIntosh said. 

While there are no voted on team captains, McIntosh is primed to be one of the main leaders for the Nittany Lions this season. The senior is one of three on the team and the California native exudes his leadership in a lead by example style. McIntosh cited how, for the most the most part, he is not a vocal leader and won't give too many pep talks, and instead will try and provide a path for the younger wrestlers to follow. 

"I try and lead by example so the younger guys can see the things that I do that I've learned over the years and have them pick up on those," said McIntosh. "I want to show guys the right things to do both inside and outside of the wrestling room." 

Besides being one of the best on the mat, McIntosh is also well known for his quirky mode of transportation around campus. Hailing from California, it was nearly impossible for McIntosh to bring his car up to school. So instead, he resorted to a cheaper and more convenient way of getting to and from class: a moped. The senior purchased the vehicle from a former assistant coach and rides it to class year-round. 

"It's fun and really convenient to get around campus and I am known for being that scooter guy," said McIntosh. "It was a nice and less expensive option as an out-of-stater than to buy a car or bring one up."

Having to adjust to brutal Pennsylvania winters is another hurdle McIntosh had to first adjust to when coming to Penn State, but the senior has acclimated very quickly and now doesn't even mind the winter.

"I like it and it's cool having four seasons. In California, you get a summer, a little bit of spring, a little bit of fall, and a tiny bit of winter," said McIntosh. "It's nice having four seasons and getting to see the snow, it's definitely a cool experience. I think everyone should live somewhere cold at least for a little bit."

When McIntosh isn't on the mat, he enjoys playing music and jamming out with his teammates. McIntosh plays both the piano and the guitar. He says how music is fun and provides an avenue to take his mind off of wrestling. But McIntosh isn't the only musically inclined wrestler on the team. 

"Some other guys on the team enjoy that too, so we get together and play a lot. Dylan Dailey is a killer drummer, so we go over to his house and he has a sound system set up in his basement, so we plug in and play."

McIntosh is a criminology major, citing that there are many different career paths he can go down. In particular, the senior is thinking joining the fire department, a profession he thinks he can be good at and more importantly, a job that McIntosh would like to do. Before his career after wrestling begins, the Santa Anna, Calif. native has his eyes on the ultimate wrestling prize. 

"I'll continue to wrestle and manage to stay on with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and compete freestyle and try to win an Olympic medal."

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes - Wrestling Green Screen Video Shoot

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head behind the scenes with the Nittany Lion wrestling team during its green screen video shoot day at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. The Nittany Lions kick off the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Lock Haven in Rec Hall.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony